Meet the Chair of our Board, Tim Beresford

Tim Beresford, Chair of The Benevolent Society Board, has been volunteering on the Board for seven years since February 2013. He is currently the Deputy CEO of the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) and his areas of expertise include strategy, governance, public policy, change management and organisational design.

Tim Beresford

We had the opportunity to gain some personal insights from Tim in a recent interview. He shared with us his strong commitment to social justice and public policy, why he joined the Board, what excites him and what he wants to achieve for the organisation.

What motivated you to join the Board of The Benevolent Society?

The Benevolent Society does an extraordinary amount of work for Australian society. Being part of something that helps Australians live their best lives and genuinely impacting families, individuals and communities, it gives you a real sense of purpose and meaning. That to me is really inspiring.

Due to our organisation’s size, brand and reputation, we have the ability to influence and shape policy and drive outcomes. Because of who we are and our capacity to drive social change through our advocacy, we can really tilt the dial.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself...

My wife Kate and I have been married for about 20 years. We have two kids, Oliver is 14 and Sarah is 12. We live in Sydney’s suburb of Balmain, close to The Benevolent Society's National Office in Glebe. Although travelling is currently limited, we usually like to travel around Australia and overseas, experiencing different cultures and people. Travelling within Australia, you realise what an amazing country we live in.

I also love cricket and I am usually glued to test matches. These days I play socially and a long (long) time ago, I used to play grade cricket.

What do you find most enjoyable about being the Chair of the Board?

Being amongst our teams and connecting with them. I have visited many of our sites and seen how passionate and committed our people are to our organisation. Also working with my fellow Board members, our CEO Jo Toohey and the senior leadership team, together we are focussed on delivering on our strategic purpose and ensuring we have the greatest social impact. 

How do you ensure decisions made by the Board are grounded in our hope and desire for social justice?

Through a deliberate process of listening and challenging one another and staying true to our purpose, we arrive at better decisions. By taking into consideration the diversity of thought and reflections through the decision making process, you get better decisions and outcomes. Some decisions will have an impact on years to come, so having strategic patience in decision making is really, really critical.

What do you hope to achieve whilst on the Board?

Three things: Strategy, governance, and succession planning.

Strategy: Working alongside the Board and senior leadership, I am focussed on delivering our strategic focus and pivoting The Benevolent Society from an organisation that has three separate services to one integrated business with different service offerings. As an organisation, we need to deliver service in an integrated way – “The Benevolent Way” - to meet the needs of our clients and ensure we are shaping and enhancing social policy.

Governance: From a governance perspective, there’s a lot of accountability on Boards. We’ve seen a number of Royal Commissions in recent years across a multitude of industries, so contemporary and rigorous governance is very important. Where there’s good governance, there’s good leadership and where there’s good leadership, there’s good decision making.

Succession planning: Currently we are going through the Board renewal and transparent succession planning process.

What’s one thing you’d change about Australia if you could?

Australia is a wealthy country, made up of extraordinary endowment of intellectual and physical resources. With that wealth comes responsibility and obligation to ensure we are a compassionate and caring country. How we bring that compassion and demonstrate “we care”, is something we always have to put at front of our mind.

What’s your best career advice?

Do what you are passionate about and do what you want to be remembered for. Over our careers we spend a lot of time focussing on our professional skills, but it is also important to spend time on what you really love to do. Thinking about your career in terms of what you want to be remembered for, not just the skills or roles you have done. It is a balance of doing things that nurture both your head and your heart.

What’s your favourite book, blog or podcast and why?

I am very interested in following foreign affairs and I’m an avid reader of ‘The Economist,’ so I can keep abreast of what is happening internationally. I am always intrigued by the impact that foreign affairs plays on our lives.